Sports News

Osimhen is young lad with head of a 40-year-old, says Gattuso

Soccer Football - Pre Season Friendly - L'Aquila 1927 v Napoli - Stadio Teofilo Patini, Castel di Sangro, Italy - August 28, 2020 Napoli's Victor Osimhen and Lorenzo Insigne during the match, as fans are allowed into a stadium for the first time following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) REUTERS/Ciro De Luca

PARMA, Italy (Reuters) - Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso is notoriously hard to please but he dished out rare praise on Sunday when describing new Nigerian signing Victor Osimhen as a “young lad with the head of a 40-year-old”.

Osimhen, who became Napoli’s record signing when he joined from Lille in the summer for a reported 70 million euros, was brought on for his debut after an hour of Sunday’s Serie A match at Parma and made an instant impact in their 2-0 win.

“I was struck by Osimhen’s serious attitude,” said Gattuso. “He hasn’t forgotten where he came from and the sacrifices he made.

“He built himself up on his own and I congratulate him for his will and desire. He is a young lad with the head of a 40-year-old, I hope he doesn’t make mistakes and doesn’t change his attitude.”

Osimhen, 21, grew up in a tough district of Lagos, lost his mother at a young age and, along with his brother and sister, sold bottled water to drivers stuck in the Lagos traffic to help his family make ends meet.

Gattuso said he wanted to get Napoli back into the top four again after last year’s turbulent season where they finished seventh after a late recovery and won the Coppa Italia.

“It’s natural that given the history of the last ten years we want to return to the top four,” he said.

“I want to see a well organised team that have clear principles in their heads and that know how to make themselves available in difficult moments.”

Reporting by Brian Homewood, editing by Ed Osmond